Ocean Matters Launches History of Whaling Project

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Whalingby Laura Parker Roerden

Whaling might be a vestige of our past, but it has left echoes that can be felt to this day. Ocean Matters, in partnership with LePage-Miller, Inc., is launching a Digital Humanities research program on the history of whaling. Three high schools in areas with rich whaling histories: Lahaina, HI, the East End of Long Island, NY and and New York, NY will engage in local historical research tracing the intersection of large-scale historical events on the whaling activity in their communities and vice versa. Students in the three locations will then compare and contrast their local histories and the impact whaling had on the history of their communities.

The goal of the program is to develop a collaborative model for high school research that leverages the unique capabilities of digital resources and learning management systems in order to deepen disciplinary thinking.  The program also emphasizes the importance of a place-based approach to historical and environmental research.

Heather Miller, Director at LePage-Miller, Inc., describes the projects multiple benefits, “Whaling activity pre-dates the American colonies and has impacted the economic, social, architectural, cultural, natural history and literary history of our country in fascinating, and generally under recognized, ways. Moreover, whaling history has a profound connection to the crisis of nonrenewable energy sources that shapes our world today. Fostering depth in this field of history facilitates acquisition of geographical, historical, cultural and economic concepts.”

With only 600 surviving Right Whales in the Atlantic to this day, Ocean Matters is particularly interested in helping students explore how our complex relationship to natural resources over time changes and shapes our present day choices and realities.


“Our partner schools’ locations and the participation of local historical societies,” Miller adds “will enable the participation of members of the Shinnecock and native Hawaiian peoples; including the voices of native peoples who are more typically relegated to a side note in history.”

Stay tuned for more information about this exciting project.


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